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Woman and child, Havana
1855, 23 May
Daguerreotype, 2/3 plate
Private collection of Jason David Wright
Beurling was a Swede who operated in Havana for 5 years in the 1850’s. He had previously been in New York, as an engineer and architect. He worked for a time with John Ericsson. There is no record of any photographic activity in NY. He went to Cuba as a railway engineer, and seems to have become a photographer there.
Scratched on the right side of the plate is “S. F. Beurling/ Stockholm,” and on the left side “Calle de O’Reillly No. 40? and “Habana 23 mayo 1855.”
A hand-written label, in French, pasted to the bottom of the cover glass, identifies the woman as Anonia [Antonia] Marquer and the girl as Antonita Basset y Marquer, born April 2 1851. It indicates the daguerreotype was “received” on July 7, 1855. There was a French author named Basset who worked in the Caribbean in this period. According to the ship’s log (ancestry.com) the family sailed from Havana to New York on the Teutonia in May 1863. The girl, called “Camel” in the log, was 12 years old—the right age if she were 4 in 1855. The mother was 40 years old on the voyage, and since this subject looks much older than 31 in the daguerreotype, she is likely the grandmother.
The jewelry is nicely gilded – rings, bracelet, necklaces with a cross. There are some fine scratches, and mat abrasions at upper left. The coloration, especially the solarization, for example of the fan, gives this rare daguerreotype an especially attractive character.